Socca Recipe

When people come to Paris, they often ask me where they can find good bouillabaisse. And when I tell them, “You can’t”, they’re always very surprised.

“Well, isn’t it French?” they’ll reply.

adding olive oil rose

Yes, it is. But to get many of the regional specialties in France, you need to go to the region. Hence my frequent visits to Nice, to get socca at the fiery source.

And although you can make it at home, making it in a home oven is like baking off a batch of S’Mores in there: it’s close, but not exactly the real thing. You really do need a wood-fire to get that blistered crust. Still, after much experimentation, I got it close in my home oven and I now make it all the time to serve with an apéritif before dinner.

mixing socca batter

Socca is basically street food, intended to be eaten off napkins to blot up all the excess olive oil, with plastic cups of frosty-cool rosé.


And for any wine snobs out there that think it’s folly to serve wine in cups instead of glasses haven’t had the pleasure of standing near a wood-burning oven, eating a blistering-hot wedge of socca with a non-recyclable tumbler of wine. Preferably served over ice, Marseille-style.

The quality of the chickpea flour, also called garbanzo flour, is important and my friend Tricia thought that perhaps unroasted chickpea flour is best, although you should use what you can find. Indian shops carry besan, Arabic markets carry it, as well as many Whole Foods markets.

good reading!

Like most good people of Provence, she consulted the best book on authentic French cuisine available, The Sweet Life in Paris, and used my recipe.

pour

The batter comes together quickly but should rest a few hours before using. A nice pour of good olive oil is obligatoire and a little dusting of ground cumin adds a touch of that smoky taste, similar to a wood-fired oven.

socca pouring socca batter

As I mentioned in the book, you ain’t re-creating the Mona Lisa: socca is meant to be in rough shards, eaten with your fingers, and is especially good after a long day on a sun-saturated beach when your skin is tingling with sand and you can lick your lips and taste the sand of the Mediterranean.

cutting socca

And now that I’ve given you the recipe, enfin, I’m heading off into the sunset on a sailboat for a while.

So if you don’t hear back, you can either assume all is well, or I’ve abandoned ship and decided to cast-away life in the big city of Paris for the laid-back vibe of the Côte d’Azur. But at least I’ve left you the recipe in my extended, and perhaps définitive, absence.

Socca

About three 9 10-inch (23cm) pancakes

From The Sweet Life in Paris

  • 1 cup (130g) chickpea flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (280ml) water
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

freshly-ground black pepper, plus additional sea salt and olive oil for serving

1. Mix together the flour, water, salt, cumin, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let batter rest at least 2 hours, covered, at room temperature.

2. To cook, heat the broiler in your oven. Oil a 9- or 10-inch (23cm) pan with the remaining olive oil and heat the pan in the oven.

(I use a cast-iron skillet, but Tricia uses a non-stick tart pan.)

3. Once the pan and the oven are blazing-hot, pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom, swirl it around, then pop it back in the oven.

4. Bake until the socca is firm and beginning to blister and burn. The exact time will depend on your broiler.

5. Slide the socca out of the pan onto a cutting board, slice into pieces, then shower it with coarse salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

6. Cook the remaining socca batter the same way, adding a touch more oil to the pan between each one.

Related Links and Posts

Chickpea Flour (Amazon)

Chickpea Flour (Bob’s Red Mill)

Nice

The Best Socca in Nice

Socca, v1.0…v1.6..v1.9…

Panisses

Nice and the Côte d’Azur

A Taste of Provence (Tricia’s cooking program in Provence)

71 comments

  • David,
    Thanks for the lovely recipe.Is this the same as farinata in italy? It was one of the most memorable things I had ever eaten in my whole life..

  • I love the picture of the woman consulting your book!

    I made my first batch of ice cream yesterday and of course used the ice cream bible “The Perfect Scoop” as my guide. :)

  • This looks like a great snack for cocktails with my friends. Can’t wait to give it a try. Enjoy your time away!

  • How come I always feel like I live under a rock when I read your posts David? 17 years in France and I’ve never heard of this! Have to say it looks like cardboard. Where do you find chickpea flour?

  • Oops. See you even gave that info. Don’t think we have such a thing as a whole food market out here en banlieue, but I’ll look in one of those Maghreb epiceries – I bet I’ll find it there.

  • If you cook this under the broiler, how do you cook it over a wood fire? Do you turn it to cook both sides? Going to a cookout, and would like to know..Thanks!

  • aaah, farinata- one of the things i miss most about living in italy. we too found it necessary to drive out of piemonte where we lived and into liguria to find proper farinata- i have to say i like the genovese style of throwing on a bit of rosemarino. and of course there is the debate of origin- socca=nizza, farinata=liguria…

  • typo – besan (or gram flour), not besam. thanks.

  • Ooops! Woodburning OVEN, not fire. Sorry, didn’t read carefully enough! Probably doable over fire though with a castiron skillet and lid. Hmmm.

  • Getting tired of the city huh? It was only a matter or time. One can only take so much beauty I suppose.

    Nice photographs by the way. I enjoyed them.

    Laura

  • the texture of the batter seems fantastic :)

  • David – thank you, thank you!! I was in Nice for three days in May and ended up eating Socca every day because I loved it so much (and figured that I should cram as much of it in me as I could just in case I never got back there again!). I’ve been craving it ever since so I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you’ve put up the recipe. Guess that’s my weekend sorted now! Thanks again!

  • “Indian shops carry besam”
    David, it’s Besan. If anyone’s interested, you could try the Swad brand. I find it the best.
    I love Tricia’s hands.

  • Enfin is right! I love naturally gluten-free recipes. And while chickpea flour isn’t my favorite, crepes certainly are. I’ll have to try that added bit of cumin. Thanks!

  • And all this time we only knew about the soca with one c…Caribbean music that is. We learn something new every day.

  • Wonderful post, beautiful photos. I felt like I was right there with you… which might have been a little awkward considering we’ve never met (“Daveed, who ees zat leetle Americaine woman?” “Oh, don’t mind her, she’s one of my blog readers. More wine, anyone?”)

    I think the link to Tricia’s website may be one letter off. Is this the right one?

    http://www.tasteofprovence.com/

    Have a wonderful time sailing — what a charmed life. :)

  • Hello David – hope you are back from your absence and reading this! :)

    Socca, to me, speaks so much of Nice, where I had my first ever (and sadly, last so far) socca. I had it at an open-air market in town, sold straight off a wood-fired oven. It was one of my fond moments there. A looooong time ago though!

    Sadly it’s really hard to find chickpea flour in Tokyo… I’ve heard you can make your own by grinding dried chickpeas in the food processor etc. but never actually got around trying it. It seems easier to fly to Nice, well, almost…

    You guys have fun there!

  • i can’t wait to try this recipe and can’t wait to head to france in the late summer.

  • In India, we make a besan chila – it’s cooked on a skillet, pancake style and has a lot more oil than what you would add in a socca. Actually, my mom would make it with ghee (clarified butter).

    All I’d say is – if you get back from that sailing trip, try it!

  • This looks fabulous !

  • I love chickpeas and so am sure I’ll love something made with chickpea flour. I will definitely be trying this!

  • I love chickpeas and so am sure I’ll love something made with chickpea flour. I will definitely be trying this!

  • Well, one more reason I need to get your book.

  • Hope you’re enjoying la cote d’Azur, David!

    Socca reminds so much of what we have in Algeria and what is called: Karentika! Chickpea flour is the main ingredient of this beloved street food, but compared to socca, which is more rustic, karentika it is more like a thin custard, with a caramelized top, a silky heart and slightly crunchy bottom. It is also seasoned with plenty of cumin and served sandwiched in a crusty baguette. Un vrai delice!

  • wine “Marseille style”—love it! I must remember this and use the phrase next time I ask for rose with ice—waiters turn their noses up when I order this, but I will now no longer be embarrassed.

  • Fantastic! I have been eating socca in Nice today with the obliglatory ice cold rose and followed with Fenocchio ice cream … can’t wait to get home and try making it myself. Thanks for the recipe and entertaining blog,
    Kate

  • You won’t be the first or last to sail away and not come back, if indeed you can leave Paris and live incognito as a wharf rat. But I’m betting you’ll be ready for Parisian civilization sooner than later…

    Chickpea flour is also used in roti in the Caribbean…yummy that too.

  • If I decide to go savoury in the fall, this wil be on the menu!

  • Ice in the rosé, excellent! Sounds like a terrific vacation!

  • Except for the olive oil, socca sounds exctly like a south Indian pancake called a “dosa”.
    We spice our pancakes a bit by spluttering some mustard seeds, the cumin, a bit of asafetida and some curry leaves in a little oil and add it to the batter along with finely chopped ginger and green chillies.
    Our pancakes are made on a cast iron griddle.

  • Thank you so much for posting this recipe…and now on to finding chickpea flour in Seoul!

  • Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing this. I have recently ordered The perfect scoop and a brand new ice cream maker. Can’t wait.

  • Love this…I discovered a recipe similar to this during the winter, but it was the Italian version. I guess only because it had chopped fresh rosemary in it…smells divine when it is cooking. We love it because it is gluten-free! I will try the wicked hot oven. None of the recipes I studied talked about that and I know it will make a difference. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Thank you for this! I have been making a lot of Indian recipes lately and have chickpea flour….lucky me! Since my broiler is part of my oven, how close should i set the rack to the heat? And should I do it on low or high? Thanks! Dont forget your sunblock!!!!

  • HI DAVID,

    RE: SOCCA ….SO WHICH ONE IS THE BEST ? MARK BITMAN’S OR YOURS ??

  • In Britain we call it footba…

    Sorry.

    The Indian emporium in my city has chickpea flour, I think I might this recipe a whirl.

  • I was pleasantly surprised to find Swad brand besan herre in the Virgin Islands! Thanks to everyone for other recipe suggestions on what to do with it. I had fabulous authentic socca in Antibes a couple years ago but with no wood oven in sight nor broiler in my oven, I’m afraid homemade won’t quite be the same. Besides, when you fire up that oven in your sailboat, it is beastly hot. I look forward to trying anyway. Thanks! Sail away (but keep blogging)!

  • Can’t wait to try this! Can you give me a rough estimate for how long under the broiler? 3 mins? 20 mins? I understand it will depend on my broiler, but I don’t know if I need to begin checking immediately, or this takes awhile.

    Thanks!

  • One of my favorite episodes of The French Chef featured Julia Child wandering through the market in Nice, and filming the socca being made on a cast-iron griddle. The image has stayed with me ever since — there was such vitality about it!

  • David,
    I love your blog – it’s such an inspiration. Would also enjoying seeing the sunset sailing photos!

  • “The Perfect Scoop ” is my guide !

    Thanks for sharing ~~~

    http://foodcreate.com

    Cheers!

  • Just finished reading your book and loved every minute of it! Now, I can’t wait to start cooking. Socca and your dulce de leche brownies are on the menu for the weekend.

    Thanks for sharing your passion, your humor and your amazing recipes with us.

  • So, where do you find the good bouillabaisse? You started with that and I was looking for your recipe. It would be nice with the socca in Nice. We’re building a wood-burining pizza/bread/socca oven, so it will be fun to try. Thanks

  • Hi David!
    Your new book is a DELIGHT! I had the most wonderful of afternoons yesterday ~ thanks to you!
    Please read my latest entry for 6-18-09 ~ “The Sweet Life In Paris” at
    http://lavenderbetweenthecracks.blogspot.com/

    I also posted a recipe from your blog with a link to you.
    (Please let me know if you prefer I remove it)
    Thanks for such a great read!
    Terri

  • I’ve been wanted to try a socca recipe for a year!
    I’m glad I waited that long, because I think your recipe will be the “go to”.
    I’m the only “freak” in my neighborhood that has chickpea flour and you can eat only so many panisse (again thanks to you) and besan ladoo.

  • Just returned from Nice. Had the best Socca. Asked for a fork and knife, was laughed at. Ate it with both hands. Left very happy:)

  • Ah, that crust.
    I can just smell the wood-fired oven, and I’m drooling.

  • I have slow internet here and this post SCARED me. I thought the first picture was of your hand and I thought, “WHAT has happened to David?!?!?!” Hope you are wearing sunscreen!

  • Looks delicious, great post! I’m definitely going to try your method. I made farinata, but mine came out more like a cracker than a chewy crepe, although they were delicious! I think the chickpea flour here is different too, but I’ll try to find some imported variety.

  • I’ve never heard of socca…until now, that is.

  • In Argentina there is a similar preparation called faina, is similar to the Genoese Fainé.
    It is eaten with the pizza.

  • This is yummo! I can’t wait to get your book.

    Just curious if you’re going to go the eBook way, eventually, with your books?

  • Here in Tuscany it is called Cecina. Adore it!

    when you come to Florence we will have it at a wine bar i adore.. they cut it into triangles, put a slathering of truffle butter, then a slice of prosciutto and roll it up and serve on a bed of arugula!

    All we need is the Rose’!

  • This is similar to an Indian dosa-like thing I often make for breakfast. It consists of chickpea flour, water, salt, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, and sometimes ginger or cilantro, or tomato – what have you. It has no oil in the batter, but is fried on a tava with a bit of oil or ghee. Heaven!

    To the person who cannot find it in Tokyo – I am 100% sure that if you can find an Indian or Pakistani grocery they will have it. It is called “besan” there, but is the same thing – chickpea flour. There must be at least one Indian grocery in all of Tokyo.

  • I’ve just started following your blog and find it fascinating. I made the socca (both under the broiler and on a gas barbecue) for a dinner party and it disappeared before I could bring the next one out. I look forward to other tips you provide. It’s always nice to hear what life is like in Paris.

  • I wish I could remember where I found it, but I bought some smoked chickpea flour at an ethnic market somewhere here in the bay area. I think it was Mexican.

    I’m thinking 1/4 smoked flour and 3/4 normal chickpea flour might approximate the scent of the smoke in a wood-fired oven…

    Naturally, I’ve been meaning to use it for over a year now, so it’s probably a bit stale :(

  • I found two other Socca recipes online and added ideas from those recipes to yours. I found garbanzo/fava bean flour from Bob’s RedMill. Didn’t see any plain out garbanzo flour. Using Nana’s 80 year old cast iron skillet-perfect! Cumin added to skillet just before putting batter in each time-excellent! My fella barging in and adding mozzarella and rolling socca-dreadful. I’m going to make it again -for girlfriends-and have goat cheese on hand. Definitely socca is better flat and the sharpness of a smidgen of goat cheese will be good.

  • The socca was cooked on the stovetop-medium high heat. I was to chicken with first attempt to use broiler. Was worried about burning the socca. Will use broiler next time.

  • Yum – this ingredient combo sounds like it would be good with a beer, too.

  • Bless you — I adore Socca and never found a recipe that did the trick. And if you still haven’t managed to find a guide to Indian groceries in Paris (I know, it’s been a while since you made that comment), I’m a regular at La Chapelle/Gare du nord, can cook some mean Indian food. I’d be happy to give a fellow ‘merican a guided tour…AND I’ll tell you what Dishny’s best dish is!

  • I can never get the Indian “chilla” right. A sort of pancake made of besan or chickpea flour. I am better at baking though. Btw, just made your Devil’s Foodcake for the nth time.

  • David,
    After seeing you tweeting about this today, to Kalyn’s Kitchen, I knew I had to try it. Unfortunately, the dinky apartment I’m in disabled the broil option on the oven, so I cooked it at 550 for almost 15 minutes. I don’t know if I didn’t grease the pan well enough, but it came apart when trying to pan it out. It wasn’t “crispy” either – but I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be?

    Annnnyway, it’s still delicious. The olive oil, salt and pepper on top finish off the chickpea flavor beautifully. I will be making this many many more times!

  • Hey David,

    What is the texture of the socca supposed to be like? Mine came out soft and crepe-like (which was delicious), but I’m wondering if I should leave it under the broiler longer and let it get crispy.

  • Kimberly: As mentioned in the last step, if you can cook it so the top is crisp, that’s the way I like it best. (Although I’ve had to both soft and extra-crispy in Nice.)

    Emily: Socca is meant to be served in crumbled shards, so it sounds perfect!

  • David,
    I made your incredible Socca for our Coronado Concerts in the Park Culinary Challenge – Taste of Provence, and I am in love with these crispy crepes! We did the oven method and then cooked them on the grill at the park, pouring the batter into a cast iron pan and then flipping the crepe onto a pizza stone to brown the other side. Amazing! My mom also made your Gâteau aux carrottes. Thank you for these two recipes! Of course, I linked back to you!

  • Hi David,
    Does the batter really need to rest for 2 hours? What will change, if I don’t do that?
    I was looking for recipes for my backpacking trip and I thought that this would be perfect without the 2 hours resting time. I would need to cook it in a pan on a camp stove, of course.
    Thanks.

  • The resting allows the flour and liquid to meld. I always let it rest so I don’t know how it behaves if you don’t–Perhaps try making a batch at home and seeing how it turns out before your trip, without letting the batter sit or letting it sit less. Or on your trip, make the batter, pitch your tent and unpack, then fry them off!

  • I finally made this last night with besan, and it was amazing. Used an old cast-iron griddle under an electric broiler. They puffed up wildly in the oven (to deflate on cooling), and were very thin and delicate—I must’ve poured the batter thinner, or mine was runnier, because this amount made about twice as many socca. I too think it’d be great with a tiny bit of toasted rosemary, or maybe just rosemary olive oil. I let the batter sit for about 8 hours (due to morning enthusiasm and midday laziness rather than any intelligent design); I think that letting it rest a short while gives the flour granules time to absorb some of the liquid so it won’t be too grainy? Anyway, thanks so much for the perfect recipe!

  • Oh dear, I don’t know if anybody can answer this question as this is quite an old entry, but I’ll try anyway. I bookmarked this page a while ago, and finally decided I’d make it as I came across “chickpea flour” in a health store. To my horror though, I opened the bag of flour and found that it doesn’t look like the chickpea flour I imagined it to be. It wasn’t a shade of pale yellow- it was a warm, musty grey with flakes of black. I looked at the package to see if I’d bought the wrong thing, but it said “chickpea flour”. I’m going to try doing it anyway, (it’s sitting on my kitchen counter) but my hopes aren’t too high… My question is this- does anyone have any idea what exactly this flour may be? As I mentioned above, it’s rather grey, a ruddy grey, if it helps, with flecks of dark brown/black. Please Help!! I don’t know what I’ll do with a kilogram of that… :(

  • R: the only thing I can think of is buckwheat flour, which is grey. But why would would they label it as chickpea flour?
    If it is, you could make these: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/07/planet-of-the-c-1/

  • I wish I’d found your recipe first — I just tried to make socca from a NYT recipe and they added olive oil instead of water. The batter didn’t come out like heavy cream like the recipe said it would — oh well….will add water and hope for the best.